Your child needs residential treatment. What do you do to get him or her the care they need? Here are the exact steps to take.
My Child Is Out of Control. What Do I Do?
Every week, we receive emails and hear from parents who are struggling because their child has behaviors that are out of control.
This can feel like a lonely place to be, but please know that are you aren’t alone. I know this is incredibly difficult.
If your child’s behavior is beyond what you can handle at home, you have probably considered an out-of-home placement, which means care in a hospital, residential treatment center, or other placement where your child can receive the supervision and mental health services they need.
Unfortunately, this type of care is expensive and can be hard to access. But don’t lose heart. With perseverance and taking the proper steps, it’s possible to get this type of care for your teen or child.
Be sure to click here for a free PDF printable checklist of the 7 steps to take when your child needs residential treatment so you can print this information and have it at your fingertips.
7 Steps for When Your Youth, Teen, or Child Needs Residential Treatment
When you recognize that your child needs more care than you can provide, you may feel lost, lonely, or frightened. You might wonder what options are available and how to receive that support.
1.Keep a behavior & health log.
Because residential care is so expensive and invasive, not all parents who request this type of care for their children will receive it. The burden will be on you to prove your child needs this very high level of care.
While you might be at your wits end and ready to pull out your hair, this isn’t enough. Documentation and proof of your child’s behavior needs is required.
You need to show that the behavior is unsafe to the child or others, has escalated and is not getting better with the current types of treatment being used.
This documentation can include:
- Parent records
- Behavior reports from school and programs where they are problems
- Evaluations and assessments
- IEP or 504
- Therapist recommendations
- Medical records
- List of medications, current and past
- Proof that you have tried all services available in the community (list all services, type, dates, and results)
- Police reports or court records
Because much of your child’s behavior takes place in your home, it’s extremely important to keep a behavior log as proof of your child’s needs. Keep a journal or a document on your phone or computer (that you can print when needed) with the date, the incident, what occurred, how you handled it, who was present, and the results.
This type of record keeping is tedious (especially if your child has multiple incidents a day), but may be the difference between your child receiving treatment or not.
If your child damages property or harms someone, take photos and file a police report. Some counties allow you to file a police report online. Police reports are stronger documentation than parent report alone.
If your child hurts you or another person, seek medical care as a way of documenting the severity of the situation. Include these reports in your file. File a police report each time your child seriously harms you or another child.
2. Seek community and in-home support.
Residential treatment is a last resort, so it’s necessary to prove you have tried all community support first.
Community support includes:
- Medical care
- Psychiatric care, including medications
- Therapy with a trained mental health therapist
- Parent behavior education and proof you have tried parenting techniques
- In-home and wrap-around support services. If you are not currently receiving in-home support, contact your county Department of Mental Health to request it.
- Other services such as music therapy, equine therapy, etc.
3. Research treatment centers.
Look for information about treatment centers in your area and those that specialize in your child’s needed care.
There are many types of residential treatment. Click here for a complete list of the types of residential treatment available for children and youth.
4. Contact your insurance company.
Ask your insurance company which treatment centers are covered with your type of plan. All types of insurance have a toll-free number you can call or a list on their website of the treatment options available.
5. Ask your doctor and therapist for referrals.
Your pediatrician and therapist can provide referrals to treatment centers. You can also seek information from support groups or fellow parents who have children with similar issues.
6. Research funding options.
Residential treatment is expensive and few parents can fund treatment on their own. Sometimes, even if you can find a treatment center and prove that your child needs care, he or she cannot be admitted if funding has not be arranged.
Find more information about how to pay for residential treatment here.
The obstacle of paying for residential treatment can be overcome, but it will take work on your part. Keep at it and don’t give up.
7. Take care of yourself.
Be good to yourself. Caring for a child with mental health needs is draining.
Find ways to rest, recharge, and take care of your own mental and physical health. Remember that quality care and treatment are available and your efforts will be worth it.